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TENDERING OF ORIGINAL DOCUMENT

Dictum

By the combined effect of Sections 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 102 and 103 of the Evidence Act, 2011, documents (Public or Private) may be produced in Court by tendering either the original of the document itself or the copy thereof known as secondary evidence: but a party relying on secondary evidence of a public document must produce the certified true copy and no other copy thereof is admissible.

— C.B. Ogunbiyi, JSC. Kassim v. State (2017) – SC.361/2015

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OBJECTION TO SPECIFIED DOCUMENT

An objection to one specified document cannot be taken as an objection to another document bearing a totally different date. – Obaseki, JSC. Obiora v. Osele (1989) – SC.70/1987

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PARTY MUST ENDEAVOUR TO LINK DOCUMENTS TO SPECIFIC PLEADING TO AVOID DUMPING DOCUMENTS

Surprisingly the documents were dumped on the Court without any witness linking them up documents with the specific complaints of non compliance. It is settled law that despite the tendering of exhibits in proof of a Petition/case, the onus of proving the case pleaded and for which the documents were tendered in evidence, lies on the Petitioner. In the instant Petition, a lot of documents were tendered from the Bar. When a party decides to rely on documents to prove his case, there must be a link between the documents and the specific areas of the Petition. The party must relate each document to the specific areas of his case for which the documents were tendered. Failure to link the documents is fatal and catastrophic as it is in this case. The Supreme Court in the recent case of TUMBIDO V. INEC & ORS. (2023) LPELR-60004 (SC) held Per Jauro, JSC (at P.43, Paras C-F) as follows: “The practice of dumping documents on the Court without speaking to them has been deprecated by this Court on numerous occasions. No Court is entitled to conduct inquisitorial investigations into the contents of a document or purport thereof in its chambers. The Appellant ought to have called a witness to speak to the photographs and video recording before the Court. See MAKINDE V. ADEKOLA (2022) 9 NWLR (PT. 1834) 13; MAKU V. AL-MAKURA (2016) 5 NWLR (PT. 1505) 201; A.C.N. V. NYAKO (2015) 18 NWLR (PT. 1491) 352.”

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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DOCUMENT SPEAKS FOR ITSELF

It is trite that a document speaks for itself. – Onnoghen JCA. Union Bank v. Akinrinmade (1999)

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HOW CONTENTS OF A DOCUMENT MAY BE PROVED

Goodwill & Trust Investment Ltd & Anor. vs. Witt & Bush Ltd (2011) 8 NWLR Part 1250 page 500 at 533, where Onnoghen, J.S.C. at page 533 stated thus: “it is settled law that contents of a document can be proved in a proceeding by tendering the original documents or where the original is unavailable by a certified true copy of the said original as secondary evidence of the contents of the said original.”

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ORAL EVIDENCE CANNOT CONTRADICT DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

Having regard to the provisions of section 132(1) of the Evidence Act, oral evidence cannot be admitted to contradict, alter, add to or vary a contract or document unless such evidence falls within any of the matters that may be proved by such oral evidence by virtue of the provisos thereto. The provisos only permit evidence which will not be inconsistent with the terms of the relevant contract or document.

– Uwaifo JSC. Fortune v. Pegasus (2004)

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WEIGHT CANNOT BE PLACED ON A DOCUMENT TENDERED BY A PERSON WHO IS NOT IN A POSITION TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON THE DOCUMENT

Weight can hardly be attached to a document tendered in evidence by a witness who cannot be in a position to answer questions on the document. One such person the law identifies is the one who did not make the document. Such a person is adjudged in the eyes of the law as ignorant of the contents of the document. Although section 91(2) allows him to tender the document, the subsection does not deal with the issue of weight, which is dealt with in section 92. Weight in section 92 means weight of evidence, which is the balance or preponderance of evidence; the inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence offered in a trial to support one side of the issue rather than the other. (See Black’s Law Dictionary (6ed) page 1594). In view of the fact that cross-examination plays a vital role in the determination of the weight to be attached to a document under section 92, and a person who did not make the document is not in a position to answer questions on it. I see the point made by the Court of Appeal.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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